'A Priest In Hell'


The Bookworm

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

There was no way you wouldn’t get away with it. Nobody would ever know if you broke that law. It was a stupid law. Probably unconstitutional. Nobody paid much attention to it in the first place, so you reasoned that if everybody else was breaking it, you could, too.

There was no way you’d get caught.

But you were wrong. And so was author Randall Radic when he thought he could get away with embezzlement. In his new book “A Priest in Hell,” he writes about the crime, the time and dropping a dime.

Like most churches, the Congregational Church in Ripon, Calif., owned a parsonage. In this case, it was a tumbledown house in need of maintenance, but it was where Randall Radic, the church’s pastor, lived.

But Radic, with his preacher’s salary, was tired of watching other people buy the finer things in life. Greed got the better of him. Forging some documents, he took out two mortgages on the house and sold the church, neither of which were his. The banks got suspicious. Accounts were closed. Investigations were launched.

Radic was arrested. Bail was set at $1.5 million. He was convicted and sent to prison for embezzlement.

Arriving there, Radic was strip-searched, groped and given regulation underwear, flip-flops and blaze-orange pants and shirt. With no toiletries, no books or writing material, and no idea how to get anything, he was locked up, ashamed and embarrassed … and very, very scared.

Throughout his almost-six-month incarceration, Radic dealt with boredom, filth and inedible food. He learned to kowtow to the OCs and to speak another “foreign” language. As an OG (old guy), he befriended other OGs, but was largely shunned by the more-prevalent younger prison population. He tried to get along and not call attention to himself. His nights were spent sleeping in a freezing-cold cell on a three-inch mattress with a sweatshirt as a pillow, and his days were spent eating meals next to child molesters, rapists and killers.

One of those killers had a big mouth and couldn’t stop bragging about his cold-blooded crime. Seeing opportunity for early release, the Rev became a rat.

These days, it seems we all want to be “tough on crime” especially when it comes to swindlers and embezzlers. Think: Bernie Madoff. But even the most vocal proponents of “Lock ’em up and throw away the key.” will cringe when reading this book.

Filled with gut-dropping fear, desperation, edge-of-your-seat danger, squirmy anticipation and an incredible account of coping through confusion, Radic tells the story of a smart man who did something very dumb. Fully admitting to his crime, Radic is blunt when writing about his experiences in paying for his theft, so much so that it’s sometimes painful to observe. Still, readers will have a hard time pulling themselves away from this book.

If you’re a true-crime fan or up for a uniquely absorbing memoir, you’ll want to read it. “A Priest in Hell” is a book to do time with.

Categories: Galleries